This Friday, our good friend Ryan posted a piece about his frustrations with Overwatch— specifically, that the game isn’t releasing enough content. It’s certainly a fair argument, but despite that, I don’t agree with it. I’ve been on board with Overwatch since the first cinematic in the museum, and one thing I appreciate is how the game treats its lifespan as a marathon, not a sprint. I still love Overwatch, and I’m not so sure that dramatically speeding up the game’s production style would make me love it more.
Developed to perfection
Here’s the thing with new heroes—they’re a double edged sword. Before Overwatch, my game of choice was League of Legends. I had just found my feet in the game when Xin Zhao was released, a notoriously overpowered champion. At one point I looked up a guide, bewildered at how I was supposed to beat this dude, and the only piece of advice it had for me was “Only fight him five on one.” Technically true, but not appropriate.
At one point, we were getting new League of Legends champions at a frantic pace. Every two weeks, a new challenger would pop up. Riot Games have since slowed down dramatically, and it’s a relief. Blizzard, on the other hand, releases a new hero about every three months. It might be a little over-cautious, but on the other hand, I’ve never felt like I’m falling behind or being delivered a weak piece of content.
Time to breathe
Not only are we getting high quality characters that don’t require drastic in-game changes or lore retcons later, each hero has a substantial amount of time to settle. I don’t like playing Doomfist, but I like having him in the game, because I like playing against him as Pharah. Each hero feels like it means something; you’re more likely to encounter them, figure out strategies, and feel good when you find their Achilles` heel.
More importantly, I can take a month off the game and not feel like I’m crushed under a mountain of new unlockables and content when I come back. There have been stretches where I just don’t play Overwatch, but the itch always returns, and the game is accommodating in letting me return.
A grand ol’ time
Perhaps most importantly? Overwatch is fun. I vividly remember my excitement when I got into the beta, and the amount of time I sunk into the game. After getting kicked out of the beta as Blizzard closed down shop to prepare for the launch proper, I felt anxious to play more. It wasn’t about loot boxes or character progression or ranking up, it was about the love of the game. It’s fun to land a perfect concussive blast as Pharah and send a couple of enemies hurtling to their doom off Route 66. It’s fun to switch to Mercy and have your team cheer you on. It’s fun to pick Bastion, as ashamed as I am to admit it, and hold off a point through the sheer power of robot turret murder.
When I got back into the game on its release date, I picked Pharah, launched into the air in Numbani, and sighed in relief. I could, once again, scratch the itch. Even now, I’ll sometimes just boot up Overwatch and play some Deathmatch for a couple of hours, even when I have newer toys tempting me in my Steam library. I like the feeling of a hard won competitive match, and I even find a certain kind of joy in losing a very close game and knowing I can get better (and how.)
Would I like more skins, more heroes, more lore, more cinematics? Of course. But Blizzard have managed to keep me interested so far. Sometimes I’ll wander away from Overwatch, but I always come back to the game, and its the high quality of the core experience that has me hooked. As long as Blizzard don’t compromise that, I think I’ll be playing this game for a long time to come.